Monthly Archives: February 2010

Digging Deep: Creativity

A lot of us still think that in order to be creative we need to pen a great piece of fiction, compose a symphony, build a skyscraper or design magical gardens. This isn’t true. Creativity is not restricted to being specifically creative in terms of one area of expertise or talent. The ultimate goal is not to be more creative, but to learn how to live creatively. Simply put, it is much less about what you do with your life; rather, it is how you go about doing it.

Living creatively means approaching each moment as a new opportunity. It’s about exploring, trusting your instincts, and owning and expressing your unique style. It means being true to your needs, experimenting, taking risks, staying flexible, and not always having to rush to conclusion. A person living creatively is always pushing towards new growth, as the psychologist Rollo May says, not without fear, but in spite of it.

via Digging Deep: Creativity.

Stupid Quotes

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” — Bertrand Russell

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” — Charles Darwin

“Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.” — Oscar Wilde

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.” — Albert Einstein

“The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.” — Voltaire

“Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!” — George Carlin

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” –Harlan Ellison

I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!” — German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” — Robert Hanlon

“I wish, my dear Kepler, that we could have a good laugh together at the extraordinary stupidity of the mob.” — Galileo Galilei

“To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.” — Robertson Davies

“I am often surprised by the cleverness, and now and again by the stupidity of my dog; and I have similar experiences with mankind.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“Against stupidity the very Gods themselves toil in vain.” — Friedrich von Schiller

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.” — Elbert Hubbard

“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.” — Dame Edith Sitwell

“Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?” — Steve Polyak

“The difference between ignorance and stupidity is that ignorance can be cured.” — Me

Sharing Our Visions

“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” We can imagine that among those early hunters and warriors single individuals — one in a century? one in a thousand years? — saw what others did not; saw that the deer was beautiful as well as edible, that hunting was fun as well as necessary, dreamed that his gods might be not only powerful but holy. But as long as each of these percipient persons dies without finding a kindred soul, nothing (I suspect) will come of it; art or sport or spiritual religion will not be born. It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision — it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude… In this kind of love, as Emerson said, “Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth?” — Or at least, “Do you care about the same truth?” The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer.” — C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

One of the formative lessons every writer (and editor) learns is that the adjective is the uranium-235 of language. Adjectives are to be treated as highly radioactive material: when used correctly, they can light up a city; used with laze, stupidity, and excess, they can turn you and your work into the artistic equivalent of Chernobyl. — Brian Donohue

It is well established that listening to action words such as lick, pick and kick activates the brain areas that control the tongue, hand and foot. Pulvermuller’s research goes a step farther, suggesting that the brain’s action system does more than respond to meaning — he believes that it contributes to it.

To test this theory, Pulvermuller ran a study in which he stimulated different parts of the action system using TMS while volunteers listened to tongue, hand and foot-related words. The level of TMS was enough to increase the neuronal activity, but not enough to knock out the region. He found that stimulating the hand region made people quicker to comprehend hand-related words, such as stitch and pick. The same was true for foot-related words, such as kick and run, when he stimulated the foot area of the brain. “We found it wasn’t just a one-way flow from the language system to the motor system. People actually use these brain areas to understand the word,” he said.

Showing that we use our “foot area” to know what “kicking” means may sound like a trivial advance. But it demonstrates scientifically what great writers have instinctively known all along: that we don’t just understand words, we feel them.

Words have effects, sometimes very physical effects. In sharing our visions of what we want our world to be like, in developing our friendships and other relationships, we have to consider the words we use with others and make sure they are the ones we intend. We also have to understand how others may be using their words to manipulate us. Remember that action words can strongly affect other people and that they affect you, too. If you want a peaceful, calm, Taoful world, then use peaceful, calm, Taoful words. And be aware when others are using words that create strong reactions in you. Realize you can control those reactions and think about your response before automatically becoming angry or annoyed. And that responding in a calm, peaceful way will change their responses to you in return.

Blooming

A person with true self-acceptance is “a person with full awareness of self in body, mind and spirit. This person’s center of consciousness (Hsing – “Heart Flower”) is in full bloom, ready to receive power from above, openly relating to and being reflected by others.”

“Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.” — Shigenori Kameoka

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” — William Blake

“Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.” — Ikkyu Sojun

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.” — Kent Nerburn

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“If, instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give” — George MacDonald

Loving thoughts to all today… with thoughts of spring coming soon…

The Way of Elegance

“Something is elegant if it is two things at once: unusually simple and surprisingly powerful. One without the other leaves you short of elegant. And sometimes the “unusual simplicity” isn’t about what’s there, it’s about what isn’t. At first glance, elegant things seem to be missing something… Elegant ideas—products, services, performances, strategies, whatever—all have some degree of these four elements: symmetry, seduction, subtraction, and sustainability. ” — Matthew E. May

“For me, elegance is not to pass unnoticed but to get to the very soul of what one is.” — Christian Lacroix

“Be patient, do nothing, cease striving. We find this advice disheartening and therefore unfeasible because we forget it is our own inflexible activity that is structuring the reality. We think that if we do not hustle, nothing will happen and we will pine away. But the reality is probably in motion and after a while we might take part in that motion. But one can’t know.” — Paul Goodman, “Five Years: Thoughts During a Useless Time” via Whiskey River

“Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” — Coco Chanel

“Desires are many, needs are few. Needs can be fulfilled; desires, never. A desire is a need gone crazy. It is impossible to fulfill it. The more you try to fulfill it, the more it goes on asking, asking, asking….Once you start learning how to choose the peaceful, a small room is enough; a small quantity of food is enough; a few clothes are enough; one lover, a very ordinary man, can be enough of a lover.” — Osho, “Everyday Osho”

“Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – this is my symphony.” — William Channing

What if deep poetry flowed through your day-to-day life? What if writing that poetry was a path to enlightenment? Basho, the grandfather of haiku poetry, named this path, “the Way of Elegance” because it connects you to grace and fills your life with subtle beauty….

One of the key concepts on the way of elegance is “furyu.” Basho discovered in his life of reading and thinking and wandering and teaching and writing that all of these things contributed to Furyu which literally means “in the way of the wind and stream”. It is putting yourself in the traffic, launching yourself into the action, not necessarily as a player, but deliberately, as the eyes and ears and taste buds and sense of smell. Furyu is a powerful tool that shows you what you like, and also what you love.

When a person has followed the Way of Elegance for a while she reaches a state where all she wants is to attend to quality moments with focused acceptance. Such a stance is hard to amintain; her family and friends will push her to distraction, pressure her to be normal. If you see her in this situation, enter her sabi, show her your wabi. Encourage her to follow furyu with you.” — Richard R. Powell, “Wabi Sabi for Writers”

“Furyu” is composed of two characters meaning, “wind” and “flowing.” Like the moving wind, it can be sensed but not seen. It is both tangible and intangible in its suggested elegance. And like the wind, furyu points to a wordless ephemeral beauty that can only be experienced in the moment, for in the next instant it will dissolve like the morning mist.

“The simplicity of wabi-sabi is best described as the state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence. The main strategy of this intelligence is economy of means. Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize. (Things that are wabi-sabi are emotionally warm, never cold.) Usually this implies a limited palette of materials. It also means keeping conspicuous features to a minimum. But it doesn’t mean removing the invisible connective tissue that somehow binds the elements into a meaningful whole.” — Leonard Koren, “Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers”

As a human being, I can only say that the future is yet to be made. Let us go forth and make it, but let us make it as beautifully as we can. The degree of elegance is determined by our will and the perfection of our own personalities. — Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

What our ash tree is becoming…..

It was a pleasure to meet you Saturday.
I have been working on the first ash bowl. It’s a natural edge.
The wood is still wet. It will be a few days until I can get a finish on it.
When I do it would be a pleasure to give one like this to you.
The wood on this piece should warp as it cures giving it character.

Allan Schiro
San Diego Wood Turner

Enchantment

Enchantment

Do not shorten the days
spent with Enchantment,
by asking questions from a restless mind.

For Heaven’s sake,
abandon yourself to her authentic magic
and leave earthly logic far behind.

Her influence will guide you
toward a mystical opportunity,
offering you a chance to be reborn.

As the universe extends to you
a brand new energy,
so that you are truly transformed.

With Enchantment what should go wrong
instead often goes right,
and life’s path seems clearer to you.

Your burdens seem lighter
you are filled with faith
as your purpose comes into view.

Enchantment visits most often
with those selfless souls
who give of themselves constantly.

Because their inner bliss
acts like a beacon
Enchantment stops by frequently.

Enchantment’s company is costly,
for to keep her,
you must surrender ego’s space.

Then immersed in her awesome power
you will live your life,
under the influence of grace.

—  J. Perry Alldredge

“Blessings are the things we take for granted.
Each holiday we notice what we see.
<em>Most know the Earth is utterly enchanted
Yet walk through life and love mechanically.
Valuing one’s gifts takes resolution
After days and nights of fantasy.</em>
Love brings the sweet relief of absolution,
Enveloping our hesitance in need.
No touch inspires so swift a revolution,
Transforming all the hieroglyphs we read.
In your love is the charity of spring,
Nor self-obsessed nor blinded by some creed,
Embracing the grey dawns that blessings bring.”
—  Cornelius Lyons

“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.” -– Ben Okri

“He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart” — Washington Irving

“Love is the only bow of life’s dark cloud. It is the Morning and Evening Star… It is the Mother of Art, inspirer of poet, patriot, and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart, builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth, It was the first dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings of common clay.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

“An enchanted life has many moments when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and the imagination is electrified by some haunting quality in the world or by a spirit or voice speaking from deep within a thing, a place, or a person.” — Henry Louis Mencken

“All these things have you said of beauty.
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes
and a song you hear though you shut your ears…
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and your are the mirror.”

– Kahlil Gibran

“An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love, and union with the world around us.
As mystics of many religions have taught, that sense of rapturous union can give a sensation of fulfillment that makes life purposeful and vibrant.” — Thomas Moore

“Our time here is magic! It’s the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique in yourself. It’s the only space.” — Ben Okri

Seeking Clarity

Express yourself:
That is meaning.

Ask yourself each day, “What remains unexpressed within me?”

Whatever it is, bring it out. But be judicious. The rantings of mad people do not yield greater freedom. Those who are with Tao use expression to find greater understanding of themselves and so find liberation from ignorance and circumstance.

All that is good and unique in you should be brought out. If you do not do this, you will be stunted. Never hold back, thinking that you will wait for a better time. The good in you is like the water in a well: The more you draw from it, the more fresh water will seep in. If you do not draw from it, the water will only become stagnant.

What is dark, perhaps even evil, inside you must be expressed in a proper way too. Lust, hatred, cruelty, and resentment — these must all be carefully taken out of yourself, like finding a bomb and taking it to be detonated harmlessly. Your heart may be quite a mine field, but you must persevere in clearing it if you are to plant crops and frolic without concern.

Ask yourself each day, “What remains unexpressed within me?” Unless you can express it, you will not clarify your inner nature.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

The multitude of things are innumerable,
But they travel circularly.
Those who accord with Tao
Understand rise and fall
And gain clarity and insight.
Those who do not accept rise and fall,
Ride recklessly with misfortune.

Thus it is said: the secret of Tao lies in returning.

Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Dao

Stillness, clarity, and consciousness are more immediate than any number of expeditions into the distant lands of one’s mind. Such expeditions, however stimulating, distract both the leader and the group members from what is actually happening.

By staying present and aware of what is happening, the leader can do less yet achieve more.

Tao of Leadership

We should have regular times to be alone, meditate alone, even sleep alone. This gives us clarity. Then we can bring this understanding to our relationships. Friendships will be all the more wonderful. Once we understand moderation, we move between the solitary and the social without any mistake.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity” — Francois Gautier

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what he loves.” — Blaise Pascal

“In a creative life, droughts are a necessity. The time in the desert brings us clarity and charity. When you are in a drought, know that it is to a purpose.”  — Julia Cameron

“In California in the early Spring, There are pale yellow mornings, when the mist burns slowly into day, The air stings like Autumn, clarifies like pain -– Well, I have dreamed this coast myself.” -– Robert Hass

“I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.” — Vincent van Gogh

“Seek neither fullness nor emptiness; seek only clarity. Where there is clarity, the connection between the individual self and the cosmic whole is formed and held, and the balance between attraction and effort finds its natural and holographic point of moving, living equilibrium.” — Brian Donohue

Spent the afternoon in my garden, cleaning up after the tree trimmers and taking a bit more off the pepper trees where they needed it. The best part is I smell like sage, from the wonderful native sages on my hillside. So there is a little more clarity in my life now than this weekend. I feel a little bit more restored.